Need Help? FAFSA Tutorial Video
The FAFSA application process is used to determine your eligibility for aid such as:
- Federal Pell Grant
- HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships
- Federal Direct Student Loans
- Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan for Undergraduate Students
- Federal Direct Graduate and Professional PLUS Loans
- Student Access Loan
- Limited funded federal campus-based aid such as:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
All undergraduate and graduate students must complete the entire Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process after January 1 of each year in order to receive consideration for federal aid (including federal student loans) for the upcoming academic year. HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarship students who wish to only apply for those scholarships may complete the GSFApps application on the GACollege411 web site. Application for the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships must be made by the last day of the semester for which the scholarship is sought to receive funding for that semester.
We encourage you to complete the appropriate award year FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) which is available on January 1 of each year. Visit the FAFSA site at http://www.fafsa.gov for more information. Students and parents who file online via the FOTW make fewer errors, are usually able to use the FOTW IRS Data Retrieval Process; therefore, they are able to complete the FAFSA process much faster than those who file a paper FAFSA. Please be careful and use the official U. S. Department of Education FAFSA site (fafsa.gov) because there are numerous commercial sites with very similar web addresses which charge you a fee to complete the application.
When completing a FAFSA, use your name exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. Do not use nicknames, abbreviations, or middle names as first names. The U. S. Department of Education requires your name on the FAFSA to identically match your name on Social Security Administration records. You will be required to submit additional information if there is a name conflict.
Completing the FAFSA
You must complete the FAFSA in order to apply for federal student aid for the Fall, Spring, and/or Summer terms. The FAFSA is available on January 1st of each year. Remember to list the UGA Federal school code (001598) in the "School Selection" section of the FAFSA.
The latest date you can submit a FAFSA to the U.S. Department of Education for processing is June 30th, and the FAFSA must be processed by the U.S. Department of Education Central Processing System (CPS) prior to the last date of your enrollment for the Academic Year. However, in order to be considered for any retroactive federal student aid for the current Award Year, you must also complete the Financial Aid Process while still enrolled and otherwise eligible.
Prior to completing the actual FAFSA, we strongly encourage students (and parents) to first review the "7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA: A Student's Guide to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid" tutorial.
Federal PIN for Students and Parents
Those students and parents who completed a FAFSA for a previous Academic Year should have received a Personal Identification Number (PIN) from the U. S. Department of Education. Your Federal Student Aid PIN, along with your personal information serves as your electronic signature when entered on the FAFSA web site. The PIN also serves as an identifier to let you access your personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems. Because your PIN serves as your electronic signature and provides you access to personal information, do not share it with anyone.
Students and parents of dependent students can create their own PINs, or request that Federal Student Aid generate a PIN for them that is displayed on the screen in real-time, or request that the PIN be e-mailed in real-time, or request to have the PIN sent through postal mail. You can go to http://www.pin.ed.gov to request a PIN. Once you receive your PIN, you can then complete and submit the FAFSA online.
If you prefer to complete a paper FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-433-3243, or you may download a PDF version of the appropriate year's FAFSA from the FAFSA website.
Important Dates for Non-Limited Need-Based Funds
Federal Pell Grant and/or Federal Direct Loans are not limited federal funds and you can apply and be awarded any time during the academic year if you still meet all eligibility criteria at the time you complete the FAFSA process. However, if you wish to have the aid awarded and available in time for it to apply toward the charges made to your student account before classes are cancelled for non-payment, you must complete the FAFSA process prior to the deadlines listed on the Important Dates page. Payment deadlines are available on the Bursar's Web site.
Important Dates for Limited Need-Based Funds Consideration
Federal Campus-Based funds such as the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Federal Work-Study (FWS), Federal Perkins Loan, and OSFA-awarded scholarships are limited funds.
Every Award Year, the initial group of students who will receive priority eligibility consideration for these limited funds will be comprised of:
- Those students accepted for admission or already admitted, who have submitted the new Award Year's properly completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the U.S. Department of Education, and the Department processed their FAFSA no later than March 15, and
- The students listed UGA on their FAFSA as one of their colleges of choice, and
- The students completed all additional eligibility requirements for that Award Year which were reflected in Athena under Financial Aid Eligibility.
It is important to understand that all of these limited funds can be exhausted even before all the students in the initial priority consideration group have been awarded!
If any funds are still available after we have considered and awarded all the eligible students in the initial priority consideration group, we will then award any remaining funds to eligible students who meet criteria 1-3 beginning with those student FAFSAs which were processed beginning March 15, until the limited funds are exhausted.
Completion of FAFSA Process Defined
The FAFSA application process is completed when the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) has received from the U.S. Department of Education's Central Processing System (CPS) the valid Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) from the student's FAFSA, the student/family have completed the Verification of FAFSA Information (if selected), and furnished us any other required documentation (citizenship, Selective Service registration, etc.).
IRS Data Retrieval Process
When completing the FAFSA, students and parents of dependent students (the students required to provide parental information on the FAFSA) who have filed federal income tax returns are able to retrieve, directly from the IRS, certain income information they reported on their tax returns. Utilizing the IRS Data Retrieval Process can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete the FAFSA process.
According to the U. S. Department of Education, approximately 84 percent of FAFSA applicants qualify to use the IRS Data Retrieval. The Department of Education strongly encourages students and the parents of dependent students to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Process at the time they initially compete the FAFSA. When applicants have not filed their federal tax returns at the time they initially complete the FAFSA, they should later use the FAFSA corrections process to access their IRS information using the IRS Data Retrieval and correct their income tax information.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, applicants who electronically file their IRS income tax returns can expect their tax return information to be available for retrieval and transfer to the FAFSA within two to three weeks of filing the tax return. Information for paper tax return filers will generally be available within eight weeks of filing the tax return.
FAFSA Applicants Not Eligible to Use the IRS Data Retrieval Process
The following applicants are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process and instead must use the figures from their completed federal income tax return to enter the requested income information on the FAFSA:
- Parents of a dependent student filed separate federal income tax returns.
- Student or Parent of a dependent student had a change in marital status after the end of the applicable tax year reported on the FAFSA.
- Student, student's spouse, or parent of dependent student filed an amended federal tax return.
- Student and spouse filed separate federal tax returns.
The Student Aid Report (SAR) & The Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR)
After the U.S. Department of Education Central Processing System (CPS) processes your FAFSA, they produce an output document that reflects the information you provided on your FAFSA, along with your calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as well as the results of the eligibility matches and any identified inconsistencies. The output document you are provided is called the Student Aid Report (SAR) while the output document we are provided is called the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). If you provide your e-mail address on your FAFSA, the CPS will email you a direct link to the FAFSA login page with instructions on how to view your SAR.
Review your SAR for accuracy. If your SAR needs corrections (which means you entered incorrect information when you completed your FAFSA), please correct the errors. If the SAR is correct, do not submit it to OSFA.
UGA Financial Aid Application Status
Students who have applied for aid but do not have a Financial Aid Award in Athena or have not received a UGA email notification of their Financial Aid Award can review their financial aid award status by accessing their financial aid Application Status in Athena.
Verification of FAFSA Information
The U.S. Department of Education created the Verification Process to confirm the accuracy of information provided on the FAFSA. By federal regulation, the post secondary institution in which the student is enrolled is responsible for conducting the verification process on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.
UGA students selected for Verification cannot be awarded any federal student aid until they complete the process and the UGA Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) has transmitted to and received any necessary FAFSA corrections from the U.S. Department of Education.
Your Student Aid Report (SAR) may indicate your FAFSA was selected for Verification. However, UGA participates in the U.S. Department of Education's Quality Assurance Program (QAP); therefore, the UGA Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) annually establishes the Verification selection criteria, as well as the Verification policy and procedures applicable to UGA students. For this reason only students who receive Verification notification e-mails from OSFA are required to complete the Verification Process at UGA. Even if your SAR does not indicate you have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education, you will be required to complete the Verification Process if we select your FAFSA for Verification.
Verification of FAFSA Information will generally be required of FAFSA applicants who are required by IRS rules to file a federal income tax return and either choose not to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process, or are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Process.
Verification of FAFSA Information will be required from the following individuals:
- Parents of Dependent Students (students required to provide parent information on the FAFSA), or
- Independent Students (students not required to provide parental information on the FAFSA).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool does significantly reduce the time it takes to complete the FAFSA Process.
We will begin selecting FAFSAs for verification of information in February. When a student's FAFSA is selected for verification, we will notify the student and parent (when applicable) by e-mail. If you are selected for verification, you will not receive any federal aid until the verification process is completed.
Acceptable Verification Documentation
A signed copy of a student's or parent's federal income tax return is no longer acceptable as verification documentation. To verify the federal income tax return information entered on the FAFSA, parents of dependent students or independent students must either:
- use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (if eligible to do so) to verify their income tax information, or
- send us an IRS Tax Return Transcript of their tax year information
Please Note that if you choose to provide an IRS transcript, the IRS will only provide one tax transcript per tax year. Please make copies for yourself and do not provide your only copy to UGA.
The IRS's granting of an extension to file a federal tax return does not eliminate the requirement to provide us the requested tax return documentation. The Verification Process cannot be completed and the student?s eligibility for federal financial aid determined until all requested acceptable documentation has been received by the UGA Office of Student Financial Aid.
We will e-mail the student (and/or parents when applicable) when we need additional information or documentation. Please respond promptly to prevent processing delays.
Annual Verification Deadline and Consequences of Missing Deadline
As previously noted, UGA students selected for verification cannot be awarded any federal student aid until they complete the process. There is also a deadline after which the verification process can no longer be completed for the selected award year.
Students and parents (when required) must submit to OSFA all requested documents necessary to complete the verification process the earlier of either:
- the 90th calendar day following the student's last date of attendance at UGA for the award year selected for verification; or
- September 1 of the award year immediately following the award year selected for Verification.
Example: A student completes 2014-15 FAFSA prior to Fall semester 2014. Her SAR is selected for verification and OSFA emails the student requesting verification documentation. Student attends Fall semester which ends on December 17, 2014. Student does not enroll for Spring semester 2015. In order for OSFA to determine the student's federal aid eligibility, OSFA must receive all requested documentation no later than 90 calendar days following December 17, 2014 since that would be earlier than September 1, 2015.
Failure to provide all requested documentation prior to the earlier of the two dates above will result in the student not being awarded any federal aid for the award year. Also see Retroactive Federal Student Aid for additional deadlines regarding the late awarding of federal student aid.
Financial Aid Awards
Financial Aid Awards are accessed on Athena. All UGA students are required to create a MyID which will then create a UGA e-mail address. We use your UGA e-mail address as the official mechanism to notify you of the availability of your Financial Aid Award on Athena.
If you have not yet created a MyID, we will e-mail you at the address you provided on your UGA Admissions application. It is very important that you regularly check your e-mail account and delete old e-mails in order to avoid reaching your disk space capacity; otherwise your electronic Award notification may be rejected by your account. Read more information about e-mail notifications from OSFA, on the E-mail Information Web Page.
When you access your Award on Athena, review all Award messages and the information we provide concerning the types of aid included on your Award. If your Award includes the offer of Federal Work-Study (FWS) assistance and/or student loans, you will be directed to accept or cancel your aid in Athena. We automatically pre-accept any gift aid you may be awarded (HOPE or Zell Miller Scholarship, Federal Pell Grant etc.) at the time of the award. We also notify applicants who requested aid that is not available.
Important Student Loan Notice
First-time student and parent loan borrowers should review "Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Notes (MPNs)" for additional information. Students borrowing Federal Graduate PLUS Loans and parents borrowing Federal Parent PLUS Loans must also complete the "Annual PLUS Loan Borrower Processing Requirements".
Please refer to the Loan Programs section of this Web site for additional information regarding the Federal Direct Loan Program.
Completion of the Financial Aid Process Defined
IMPORTANT - Students have completed the financial aid application process once they confirm their acceptance of any awarded loans and/or Federal Work-Study and, if applicable, their Web based Federal Direct Loan Promissory Note and federal loan entrance counseling have been correctly completed and submitted. In addition, all "Change in Aid Requests" to awards have been received and processed.
Students who meet all basic student eligibility requirements will have their eligibility for aid determined once OSFA has received their valid electronic SAR, and, if selected, all requested Verification documentation.